University of Sulaimani
College of Science
Department of Chemistry
Course book of Environmental Chemistry
Third year chemistry students (junior students)
The Teacher: Dr. Khalid M. Omer,
PhD in chemistry
Hall no: 02 Chemistry Department
Time: Tue 8.30-10.30 AM
Environmental chemistry is a rather young and interdisciplinary field of science. It’s aim is a
complete description of the environment and of transformations occurring on a local or global scale.
Environmental chemistry also gives an account of the impact of man’s activities on the natural
environment by describing observed changes.
At present environmental science consider as one of the most vital sciences since it deals with
sources, reactions, fate of the chemical and biological species in the air, water and soil, and how human
activities affect on these.
A great number of environment issues, have grown in size and complexity day by day,
threatening the survival of mankind on earth. We study about these issues besides and effective
suggestions in the environment studies.
The main objective of this course focuses on the introduction of the environmental chemistry to
the students describing what the environment, environmental science, and how one can keep our
environment clean and friendly. The course also focuses on the main problems of the environmental
pollution and the methods of controlling and preventing of pollution.
Environmental pollution which could be defined as the contamination of air, water, land or food
in such a manner as to cause real or potential harm to human health or well-being, or to damage or
harm nonhuman nature without justification. The question of when harm to nonhuman nature is
justified is a sticky one and is addressed during this course.
A major purpose of this course, therefore, is to present a reasonably uniform view of various
aspects of the chemistry of the environment and chemical reactions occurring in the environment.
Lecture 01: Introduction to environmental chemistry and significance of
environmental studies in human life.
Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates chemical,
physical and biological sciences (including physics, chemistry, biology, soil science, geology,
and geography) to the study of the environment, and the solution of environmental problems.
Environmental science provides an integrated, quantitative, and interdisciplinary approach to
the study of environmental systems. While Environmental chemistry can be defined as the study
of the sources, reactions, transport, effects, and fates of chemical species in the air, soil,
and water environments; and the effect of human activity on these. Environmental chemistry is
an interdisciplinary science that includes atmospheric, aquatic and soil chemistry, as well as
heavily relying on analytical chemistry and being related to environmental and other areas of
Lecture 02: Type of pollutants, Components of the Earth/Environmental
Types of pollutants that harm the environments are addressed in this lecture, like stock
pollutant, fund pollutant and notable pollutant. Components of the earth will be explained also,
namely, lithosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.
Lecturer 03: Air pollution
It is a substance or effect dwelling temporarily or permanently in the air, which
adversely alters the environment by interfering with the health, the comfort, or the food chain, or
by interfering with the property values of people.
Lecture 04: Chemistry of ozone, ozone hole
The ozone layer protects the Earth from the ultraviolet rays sent down by the sun. If the
ozone layer is depleted by human action, the effects on the planet could be catastrophic.
Lecture 05: Particulate matter, Global warming
Particulate matter (PM) is the term for particles and liquid droplets suspended in the air.
The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems.
Lecturer 06: Photochemical smog, Acid rain
Many urban centers in the world undergo episodes of air pollution during which
relatively high levels of ground-level ozone-an undesirable constituent of air if present in
appreciable concentrations at low altitudes in the air that we breathe-are produced as a result of
the light-induced chemical reaction of pollutants. This phenomenon is called photochemical
smog. The chief original reactants in an episode of photochemical smog are molecules of nitric
oxide, NO, and of unburned and partially oxidized hydrocarbons that are emitted into the air as
pollutants from internal combustion engines; nitric oxide is also released from electric power
Acid rain is formed when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides reach the air and are
transformed into sulfate or nitrate particles. When combined with water vapor, they are
converted into sulfuric or nitric acids. Acid rain can adversely affect aquatic life, erode stone
buildings and marble statues, and seriously threaten trees and crops.
Lecture 07: Water pollution, Water Pollution categories, and water
Water pollution is any contamination of water with chemicals or other foreign substances
that are detrimental to human, plant, or animal health. These pollutants include fertilizers and
pesticides from agricultural runoff; sewage and food processing waste; lead, mercury, and other
heavy metals; chemical wastes from industrial discharges; and chemical contamination from
hazardous waste sites. Worldwide, nearly 2 billion people drink contaminated water that could
be harmful to their health.
Lecture 08: Causes of water pollution, pathogens, chemicals, and other
The specific contaminants leading to pollution in water include a wide spectrum
of chemicals, pathogens, and physical or sensory changes such as elevated temperature and
discoloration. While many of the chemicals and substances that are regulated may be naturally
occurring (calcium, sodium, iron, manganese, etc.) the concentration is often the key in
determining what is a natural component of water, and what is a contaminant.
Lecture 09: Waste Water Treatment, Domestic Waste Water Treatment,
Industrial Waste Water Treatment, Purification of water
Domestic wastewater treatment, is the process of removing contaminant from waste
water and household sewage, both runoff and domestic. It includes physical, chemical, and
biological processes to remove physical, chemical and biological contaminants. Its objective is
to produce a waste stream (or treated effluent and a solid waste or sludge suitable for discharge
or reuse back into the environment. This material is often inadvertently contaminated with many
toxic organic and inorganic compounds.
Lecturer 10: Land pollution, wastes, sediments
Soil (land) pollution is defined as the build-up in soils of persistent toxic
compounds, chemicals, salts, radioactive materials, or disease causing agents, which have
adverse effects on plant growth and animal health.
Lecturer 11: Noise pollution
The noise originates from human activities, especially the urbanization and the
development of transport and industry. Though, the urban population is much more affected by
such pollution, however, small town/villages along side roads or industries are also victim of this
problem. Noise is becoming an increasingly omnipresent, yet unnoticed form of pollution even in
developed countries. Though noise pollution is a slow and subtle killer, yet very little efforts have
been made to ameliorate the same. It is, along with other types of pollution has become a hazard
to quality of life.
Lecturer 12: Radioactive pollution
Radioactive pollution can be defined as the release of radioactive substances or high-
energy particles into the air, water, or earth as a result of human activity, either by accident or
by design. Since even a small amount of radiation exposure can have serious (and cumulative)
biological consequences, and since many radioactive wastes remain toxic for
centuries, radioactive pollution is a serious environmental concern even though natural sources
of radioactivity far exceed artificial ones at present.
Lecturer 13: Green chemistry
Green chemistry consists of environmentally friendly, sustainable chemicals and
processes whose use results in reduced waste, safer outputs, and reduced or eliminated pollution
and environmental damage. Green chemistry encourages innovation and promotes the creation
of products that are both environmentally and economically sustainable.
Lecturer 14: Seminars presentation
Lecturer 15: Seminars presentation
1. E. Burcu Özkaraova Güngör, Environmental technologies new developments, ed., 2007 I-Tech
Education and Publishing.
2. J. Jeffrey Peirce, P. Aarne Vesilind, Ruth F. Weiner, Environmental Pollution and Control, 4th
ed., 1997, Elsevier Science & Technology Books.
3. Anil Kumar De, Arnab Kumar De, Environmental Studies, 2nd ed. 2005, New Age International
(P) Ltd., Publishers.
Exams and grading policy
Various Activities (5 Marks)
Short tests are taken without prior notice about either the next lecture or
pervious lecture. (duration of the quiz mostly is 5 minutes)
Mid-term exams (40 Marks)
Consists of two exams, each one will be taken after taking 12 hours of the
course, i.e. after each six weeks. (20 marks for each exam)
Seminar (5 Marks)
Each student has to prepare a seminar (from 5 to 15 pages) about any particular
topic in environmental chemistry. Each student has 5 to 10 minutes to present.
Final exam (50 Marks)
Final exam covers all the materials that are taken during the whole semester.